MEN’S HOCKEY: Three Keys To Victory
By Greg Joyce, Sports Editor
Even though it was just an exhibition game, No. 1 Boston College got off to an impressive start to its 2012-2013 season on Saturday night at Kelley Rink, taking down the University of New Brunswick 6-0. After some expected sloppy play in the first 10 minutes, the Eagles found their stride with an absolutely dominating second period, when they scored four of their six goals. As always, there is room for improvement for BC, but here’s what went right in the win:
Rock-Solid Walls In Net - Parker Milner, Brian Billett, and Brad Barone each played one period in between the pipes for BC, and all three were on top of their game. They all had their share of highlight-reel saves, and combined for 18 saves on the night. Despite their varying depths of experience, all three looked calm and collected in the crease, and helped to spread that confidence to the young BC defense.
Head coach Jerry York said he watched New Brunswick practice on Friday and thought it’d be a close game, but said that his goalies were the difference makers in the win.
“Our goalies made some terrific saves,” York said. “I thought all three goalies played very well. I was really pleased with our goaltenders.”
Milner will surely get almost all of the starts this season, but it’s important to trust your backups, and Billett and Barone both looked solid tonight.
Scoring Spread Out - All four forward lines contributed to the scoring tonight, a great recipe for success. York always prides himself on having a deep team, and he saw that continue tonight.
“Early on in the season, we’re just trying to formulate some lines … but to see Patrick Brown’s line, and Michael Sit’s line play very well, that’s a really good sign for us,” York said. “We know that Billy Arnold’s line and Pat Mullane’s line, those are going to be really excellent for us during the course of the year. So we’re developing a little more depth and a little more strength than [just] those other two lines.”
The goal scorers on the night were Johnny Gaudreau, Destry Straight, Bill Arnold (on the power play), Brooks Dyroff, Patrick Brown, and Danny Linell. Fourteen Eagles recorded points on the night, either scoring a goal or setting up a goal with an assist.
Second Period Dominance - After a solid first period, BC lit up Conte Forum with four goals in the second frame, including three goals in a span of 1:43.
“Oh we made some great plays,” York said of his team’s performance in the second period. “We had a lot of jump.”
The Eagles straight up controlled the pace of the game in that second period, and maintained possession of the puck for the majority of the frame. BC outshot New Brunswick 17-4 in the period, and all but put the game out of reach with a dominating 20 minutes.
With all of that said, the Eagles haven’t even had their first real practice of the season yet. That’ll happen on Sunday, as they now have under a week to prepare for their season opener at Northeastern. But if Saturday night’s game was any indication of how the regular season will go, there is a lot to be excited about in Chestnut Hill.
“I’m pleased, we haven’t had many practices,” York said. “The NCAA mandates two hours a week for these three weeks, so actually tomorrow [Sunday] will be our first real practice. So having said that, it’s great to see where we are.”
Hockey Notebook: BC Moves On
(Photo by Daniel Lee/Heights Editor)
By AJ Pottle
The unanimously No. 1 Boston College men’s hockey team (27-10-1) was able to defeat the UMASS Minutemen (13-19-5) by a score of 3-2 on Saturday night and advance to the Hockey East semifinals. The Eagles were forced to play from behind for the first time since Jan. 27 against UNH, but more spectacular play by junior goaltender Parker Milner highlighted the final win of the weekend series. The Eagles await the results in the rest of the Hockey East playoffs to see whom they will take on at the TD Garden on Friday for the semifinal matchup.
Playing From Behind
The Eagles found themselves in very unfamiliar territory when they fell behind early in the game Saturday night. BC had not trailed in a game for 687 minutes, a record dating back to the second period of the Jan. 27game against UNH, which the Eagles won 4-3 thanks to a Steven Whitney game-winner. UMass was able to secure the 1-0 lead at the 2:54 mark of the first period thanks to an even strength goal by their speedster forward Conor Sheary. Sheary got the goal on a give and go pass with T.J. Syner behind the net, who was able to wrap around and find Sheary in the slot.
BC was able to answer the bell, but not without a break. During a penalty kill for Bill Arnold’s roughing call UMass’ second line center Steven Guzzo received a game misconduct on a hitting from behind call. UMass, who was already without its New York Rangers prospect Danny Hobbs, was forced to work with a short bench.
“Tonight was a situation where one of their real leaders, a senior, Danny Hobbs had an injury and could not play,” head coach Jerry York said after the game. “That certainly was a factor in the game today because he is a top-level player.”
BC was able to get the equalizer during the four-on-four play, on a nice finish from junior forward Pat Mullane. Mullane took a pass from freshman forward Johnny Gaudreau and beat Massachusetts defenseman Joel Hanley to get a clear shot on goalie Kevin Boyle. Mullane finished on a forehand wrist shot.
“If we score, then we’ll try and get the next one,” York said, “but if they score it’s almost imperative that you answer the bell there because once you get behind, if you can’t get back into the game you’re not going to advance in this tournament.”
Milner on Fire
Milner has been the most elite goalie in Hockey East and maybe even all of college hockey over the last month of play, giving the Eagles a chance to win every time they step on the ice. Saturday night, and the weekend series as a whole, was no different. Milner gave up two goals on 33 shots and has only given up 16 goals during the Eagles’ 13-game winning streak.
Milner came up big on multiple occasions during Saturday night’s game after a showing on Friday, which York called “The Parker Milner Show.” Milner highlighted the victory with two key breakaway saves on T.J. Syner in the first period and on defenseman Colin Shea later on.
“You look at Parker’s numbers from February on, boy, no one matches him,” York said. “I don’t think anyone in the country, yet alone our own league … If you look at the 13 game stretch we’re on it’s remarkable what he’s done.”
The Road Ahead
The Eagles will have their hands full when they travel to the TD Garden on Friday night. Their opponent is yet to be determined, but regardless of the results on Sunday, York is just glad to have this series under his belt.
“UMASS is the quickest team we’ve played this year as far as skating ability,” York said. “Not just Syner and Sheary, but the team skates very well. I’m awfully excited about advancing. In our league, three of the four games are going into the third game.”
Depending on Sunday’s quarterfinal results, the Eagles will face one of four possible opponents; UNH, Merrimack, Maine, or Providence. BC took the season series against UNH, Merrimack, and Providence, but lost two of three against Maine including back-to-back wins by Maine. Milner and York both cited the Maine series in Orono as a turning point in their season.
“That bus ride back from Orono when we lost back to back games – that was difficult for us,” York said. “The kids just persevered through it and now we find ourselves going to the Garden this weekend to hopefully capture that Lou Lamoriello Trophy.”
Eagles Sweep UMass In Quarterfinal
(Photo By Daniel Lee/Heights Editor)
By Chris Marino, Assoc. Sports Editor
The No. 1 Boston College men’s hockey team (27-10-1) was the only team to advance to the Hockey East Semifinals in two games this weekend, with a series-clinching 3-2 victory over Massachusetts (13-18-5) tonight at Kelley Rink. The Eagles were led by junior goaltender Parker Milner, who finished the night with 33 saves. Defenseman Brian Dumoulin scored the game-winner in the second period.
“This is the third year in a row that we’ve faced a Don Cahoon team in the first round, and we’ve always felt Sunday morning and late on Saturday night how fortunate we are to advance,” said head coach Jerry York. “We know exactly what to expect from his kind of team. They’re going to skate well. They’re going to compete at a very top level. And they always give us a real battle to get to the Garden.”
The first period saw UMass fly out of the gate. Just like in the first game of the series, the Minutemen created a number of early scoring opportunities. Forward Conor Sheary started the scoring when he took a wrap around pass from behind net and struck glove side. Around a minute later, BC responded with a two-on-one breakaway score for Pat Mullane. Mullane took the feed from freshman Johnny Gaudreau, who to that point had an assist on all three quarterfinal scores for the Eagles since Friday night.
The Eagles stayed active in the offensive zone, creating opportunities with the power-play unit. Sophomore Bill Arnold and senior Paul Carey executed a perfect give-and-go, as Arnold placed the puck right on the stick of a rushing Carey to put the home team up 2-1.
BC goaltender Parker Milner received a lot of pressure from the UMass offensive attack, but was able to settle down for the remainder of the period. This was most evident when Minutemen senior T.J. Syner came down the ice by himself on a breakaway. He took a hard shot on net, but Milner squared up just in time to block the shot. He finished the period with eight saves.
The Minutemen once again pressured the Eagles’ defense throughout the second frame, but a BC defense led by the physical play of Patrick Wey and Edwin Shea kept them at bay for the majority of the period. The one lapse came at the 18:03 mark when Joel Hanley redirected a hard shot by Michael Marcou for the score, tying the game at two.
The Eagles responded quickly when Milner gunned the puck out of the Eagles zone to junior Chris Kreider. Kreider used great vision to find Dumoulin at the just beyond the circle. Dumoulin didn’t hesitate, and gunned a shot past UMass goaltender Kevin Boyle. Kreider and Milner were awarded assists for the eventual game-winner.
The third period saw great goaltending by Milner, who collected 13 saves after stopping 12 shots the period before. Gaudreau was one of the biggest contributors to the Eagles’ success at killing the clock, due to his great puck handling and evasiveness in the closing minutes.
York praised Milner at the end of the game for his continued success at the end of the season, especially in this two-game series with UMass.
“Parker, both nights, was very, very good,” he said. “Last night he was the reason why we won the game. Tonight, we did a lot of pretty good things. We also got very good goaltending from Parker. Last night was kind of a Milner show. That’s about all we had going for us. But tonight we had a pretty good team effort.”
Dumoulin echoed these feelings, and made it clear that the team has full confidence in Milner as BC moves forward.
“He’s our backbone,” Dumoulin said. “He gives us tons of confidence, knowing that if we make a mistake it’s not over. He’s going to make a big save, like he has in these last couple of games and he has in the last couple of months. That’s huge for us. That’s huge for our confidence with our young guys and us defensemen, knowing that we have a rock behind us. That’s just huge going on in the later round of the playoffs.”
Eagles Down UMass In Game One
By Chris Marino, Assoc. Sports Editor
Tonight, the No. 1 Boston College men’s hockey team (26-10-1) defeated the Massachusetts Minutemen (13-17-5), 2-1, in the first game of a best-of-three Hockey East quarterfinal series at Kelley Rink. The Eagles were led by seniors Pat Mullane and Tommy Cross, who scored goals only 39 seconds apart from each other in the second frame.
“It’s a playoff type hockey,” said head coach Jerry York after the game. “The atmosphere—you could just feel the type of playoff intensity out of both teams. Not very often are you going to see so few penalties. The teams were both disciplined. [UMass] had one power play. We didn’t have any power plays. So, it was mostly five-on-five, no four-on-fours. It was a battle. Every shift was a battle out there.”
(Photo by Daniel Lee/Heights Editor)
The first period saw the Eagles dominate in the initial minutes. Close chances by Mullane, senior Paul Carey and sophomore Bill Arnold signaled for what looked like a potentially high-scoring night for the home squad. BC began the game with a 6-0 shot advantage before the UMass could put anything on net. However, a sudden power shortage cut the momentum for the Eagles, as the teams were forced to return to the locker room for nearly 20 minutes.
When play resumed, UMass seemed to have a new sense of energy, which resulted in more shots on net. Despite BC’s initial shot advantage, the team ended the period only up 10-7.
The second period included more urgency from the Eagles, yet the result was sloppy play and turnovers. Just as in the latter portion of the first period, puck control was an issue for BC. Fortunately, junior goaltender Parker Milner was on his game tonight. UMass put the pressure on him all period, but Milner was able to make several big stops to keep his team alive.
Just over a minute into the second frame, UMass’ Troy Power caused a turnover in the neutral zone, and broke away toward net by himself. Milner stopped the scoring opportunity with a solid pad save to his right. Later in the period, Milner was faced with a hard slap shot by Steven Guzzo, but he made the glove save to keep the game scoreless. Milner’s only lapse appeared to be a score for the Minutemen towards the middle of the period, however, the goal was called off, as it went into net off Guzzo’s skate.
Offensively, the Eagles seemed flat and unable to move the puck. UMass took an 18-10 shot advantage in the game, and seemed to be playing an extremely physical brand of hockey.
UMass’ tougher play did not appear to phase the team, according to Cross.
“It was nothing more than typical playoff hockey,” he said. “We’ve faced teams this year that certainly come after us very hard, and finish their checks, so we’re used to that. I didn’t really notice that they were doing anything beyond normal playoff hockey.”
Mullane echoed this sentiment when talking about the Minutemen’s style of play, and explained that the team is expecting this kind of play throughout the rest of the postseason.
“Every playoff game is amped up a little bit, especially on the first night,” he said. “Obviously on the first night you’re going to see a lot of contact. You’ll expect to see that all the way through the playoffs. Obviously, they’re a physical team. That’s the way they play, so we’ll expect to see that [Saturday] night as well.”
At the 17:46 mark, the Eagles responded to UMass’ play, as freshman Johnny Gaudreau took a pass off the faceoff, and fed it perfectly to Mullane in front of net. Mullane took the shot, which ricocheted off the ice in front of UMass goaltender Kevin Boyle and into the net.
Cross followed with a goal of his own at the 18:25 mark. He received a pass from Gaudreau once again, and took the shot from the circle, beating Boyle glove side for the score. Despite UMass holding an 11-3 shot advantage for the period, the Eagles were able to make their limited shots count, leading 2-0.
Both players applauded Gaudreau for his on-ice “vision” in setting up both scores for the Eagles. The two-goal shift was ultimately the difference maker in the contest, and Gaudreau was certainly the catalyst in the period’s momentum.
The third period saw a solid comeback effort from the Minutemen. With 13:05 left in the period, Michael Marcou took a hard shot from the point, which Danny Hobbs redirected for the score. After this, the Eagles locked down behind Milner’s solid play. The junior finished the night with 25 saves, including 11 in the middle frame.
Despite the win, York believes that his team must focus on keeping its offensive balance through the Minutemen’s physical play.
“They forechecked well all night long,” he said. “They really caused us to not have a lot of fluid rushes. The forecheck prevented us. We did have some two-on-ones, but we didn’t capitalize on them. Their forecheck was the strength of their game tonight.”
As the team prepares for the second game of the series, York says that this area of the matchup will be his team’s biggest adjustment.
“We just have to break the puck out cleaner,” he said. “We’re going to have to really concentrate on that. I thought that was the strength of their game tonight. We just have to combat that. They skate very well as a club, and they made us do a lot of things with their forecheck.”
BC Set For Hockey East Tournament
By Chris Marino, Assoc. Sports Editor
After taking the regular season title this past weekend, the No. 1 Boston College men’s hockey team focuses its attention on its first-round matchup against the UMass Minutemen. While the Eagles have the top seed in the Hockey East Tournament, they are not taking their opponent lightly in the weekend series.
“As we approach a whole new season, it’s not your typical 1-8 matchup, as far as we’re concerned,” said head coach Jerry York. “UMass is one of the few teams that took a season series from us. They played extremely well in the three games. We look at that as two wins for UMass and one win for us, so the Minutemen have our attention, and we’re preparing very, very well for them this week.”
The Minutemen did prove to be a challenge for the Eagles in the regular season. After winning the first matchup 4-2 at Kelley Rink, the Eagles were unable to answer as UMass swept at the Mullins Center.
The first loss was by a score of 4-2, as the Minutemen snapped a six-game BC win streak. The second loss was more devastating, as UMass shutout the Eagles, 4-0, despite a 35-19 shot advantage for the visitors. At the time, York blamed the loss on a careless power-play unit and sloppy errors. These were elements of play that plagued the Eagles throughout the middle portion of the season.
UMass head coach Don Cahoon was quick to recognize that, despite the regular season losses, the Eagles had the chance to take both games, and the tools to make a post season run.
“We played a couple of games here where we played well, but people shouldn’t be fooled and think that BC didn’t have plenty of opportunities to take the game the other way,” he said. “They certainly did.”
These losses came at a time when the Eagles were slumping in league play, and still trying to identify the strengths of their club.
“Our club had a 2-4-1 record after Christmas, and we were just kind of in a funk. Tommy Cross is our leader, and he just really set an example,” York said. “We’ve been on a pretty good tear since then. [We’re] led probably by our seniors, but in particular our junior goaltender Parker Milner, who’s played outstanding for us.”
Milner, who was recently named Co-Defensive Player of the Week for the Hockey East, has been nearly unstoppable in the closing half of the season. He was awarded Hockey East Goaltender of the Month for February. He finishes the regular season with a 21-5-0 record with a .926 save percentage and 1.87 goals against average.
During the final stretch, he led the Eagles to an 11-game win streak, in which he allowed only 13 goals. He stopped 272-of-285 shots in that span, which is good for a .954 save percentage. York believes that Milner’s play has been a game-changer for the Eagles, as they head into the playoffs.
“We were really in a hard situation here, early in the season and through the middle of the year, with stopping pucks,” he said. “We had three goaltenders all get a chance to jump up. We said at the time that we had a lot of “B” goaltenders, but it’s hard to win a championship without an “A” goaltender. It just doesn’t happen. We challenged our goaltenders, and Parker stepped up. His numbers are right off the charts when you look at it. He’s given up one goal in his last four games. Now I pull the goaltenders late. I’m not concerned about getting shutouts. He actually would’ve had three shutouts in the last four games.”
In general, York sees a number of different changes in his club since midseason, which have culminated into the team’s late-season Hockey East success.
“There are good clubs in our league,” he said. “The difference in winning and losing is a fine line every night. We just cut down drastic turnovers. We just managed pucks better. We made smarter plays. We’re much, much better on the defensive end. In the Hockey East, in 27 games, we gave up 60 goals, and I think last year we gave up 58 goals, and the year before that 60 goals. We’ve been pretty solid defensively, and I think we got away from that a little bit during the middle part of our season.”
One player who has remained consistent for the Eagles has been senior Barry Almeida. York applauded his alternate captain’s play, especially on the power-play unit.
“He had a remarkable senior season,” he said. “He’s always been a good player for us, but now he’s certainly a candidate for all-league honors. His play is considerably better offensively, as witnessed by the power play. Over the years we’ve had so many good power-play players that Barry hasn’t had a chance to break in there on a regular basis. This is his opportunity as a senior, and he’s done an amazing job with it. He’s certainly one of the keys to our success this year.”
This senior leadership, along with continued goaltending and defensive attention, will be necessary for postseason success. When asked to compare this year’s squad with those from past championship teams, York emphasized that all of these teams “share that same principle of good defensive play.”
BC Claims Hockey East Regular Season Title
(Photo by John Quackenbos)
By AJ Pottle
The No. 1 Boston College Eagles (25-10-1) were able to secure the regular season Hockey East Championship this weekend with a pair of victories over the Vermont Catamounts (6-27-1), including a 4-0 victory Saturday night. The Eagles put together a total team effort to secure the 12th overall championship in school history, six of which have come under head coach Jerry York. The top performers of Saturday night’s game included Parker Milner, Destry Straight, and Pat Mullane.
Milner had a night to remember for the Eagles, picking up right where he left off on Friday. The junior goaltender finished the night stopping all 26 shots he faced to pick up his third shutout of the season.
“Our team has really developed into a solid team, and we’re all really excited to watch Parker develop as a goaltender,” York said of his top goaltender. “He’s taken us to 11 straight wins and he’s been instrumental in almost every one of the wins he had.”
Milner was able to stop 55 of 56 shots he faced over the course of the weekend series with the Catamounts. Entering Saturday’s game he was able to maintain a 1.27 GAA and .950 save percentage during the team’s winning streak, which is the longest active streak in college hockey.
York has been very impressed with Milner’s progression into a premier college goaltender, and knows that the team will need him down the stretch to make a serious playoff run.
“He’s more solid position wise,” York said. “He was inconsistent with so much early in the season. He’d play really well then he would not be on top of his game … You need an ‘A’ goaltender to win a championship and he’s stepped up and become one of those.”
Saturday night’s second star of the game, Destry Straight, was a little more under the radar. The freshman forward, hailing from West Vancouver, BC, was moved up to play the left side of the second line with Kevin Hayes and Chris Kreider and finished the night with a goal, assist, and a plus/minus rating of +2.
Straight scored the eventual game-winner in the last minute of play in the first period. After a turn over by Vermont forward Connor Brickley in the neutral zone BC defensemen Patch Alber poked up the puck to Straight. He fired a shot labeled for the top left corner that beat UVM’s Rob Madore.
York will be looking for the young forward to have an impact as they move towards the Hockey East playoffs.
“I thought Destry Straight has really been one of our most improved players and I wanted to get him even more ice time by moving him with Kevin [Hayes] and Chris [Kreider],” York said. “They scored two goals, that line, but he’s come on an up path this last three or four weeks. That was a terrific goal tonight to start us off. He’s going to be a real key player down the stretch here.”
Pat Mullane rounded out Saturday night’s three stars with one goal in the win. Mullane scored on a beautiful wrap around feed from freshman forward Johnny Gaudreau, which gave him an open net.
BC will look to build off the strong hockey played this past weekend when it takes on UMass Amherst in the first round of the Hockey East playoffs starting Friday. UMass took two of three from the Eagles during the regular season.
“As we prepare for [UMass], it’s not going to be a typical 1 vs. 8 matchup,” York said of the upcoming series. “It’s a team that took two of three from us during the regular season. A team that’s playing very strong hockey these last three or four weeks.”